Three hiring mistakes and how to avoid them

Jane Prugh ,   Board Member

Jane Prugh

Board Member

Have you ever hired the wrong person? If so, don't beat yourself up - you're in good company.  A recent survey reports that 75% of employers have hired the wrong person.*  We all know it is painful and costly to hire the wrong person. The average cost of a mis-hire can be six times base salary for a sales rep, 15 times base salary for a manager, and as much as 27 times base salary for an executive. Ouch!**

With more recruitment tools available today you'd think it would be easier, but people are as likely as ever to hire the wrong people. Here are three common mistakes I've seen how to avoid them.

Problem 1: Hiring people too much like yourself

Now, of course you want to hire people who are compatible with you and your organization, but it's not unusual to select people with whom they have too much in common. By nature, we connect with people like us and bond over shared backgrounds and personalities. In the workplace, this can lead to skill gaps and a lack of diversity. If you hire people who have the same experience and skill sets, you are limiting what your organization can achieve. Hiring a new person is a great opportunity to identify what's missing in your company or on your team so you can plug those gaps.

The solution:

Look at your own personal gaps and those of your organization. What are you missing? Which skill set(s) would add more value to your company? Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and seek out people who are different, who are strong where you are weak and vice versa.

Problem 2: Clearly defined role and responsibilities

When you need to hire someone quickly, it's tempting to reuse old job descriptions, or to quickly list the role and responsibilities without careful consideration. You know in your mind what the role is and who the right person is - you already have the vision of the person doing the job and fulfilling the responsibilities. But, you are busy so you quickly put together a "job description" that misses the key points of the real person you want to hire.

The solution:

It's ok to use an old job description or to jot down some quick points about the role as a starting point, but take the time to ensure it's right for YOUR job opening. Take a step back and ask yourself: Is this an accurate description of responsibilities? What is success?  How do you know a year from now when you are doing the performance review, you made the right hire, that it wasn't a mis-hire?

Problem 3: Lacking a clear hiring strategy

Some employers make the mistake of doing their recruitment in-house without external resources. It can be helpful to have an outside perspective. The other side of the coin is actually using too many outside resources. I see this a lot when companies engage multiple recruitment firms at the same time; you might think you'll get more candidates, but in reality, you'll get a lot of duplication and poorly matched candidates. Do you know why that is? Have you heard of cherry picking? If you don't have an exclusive partnership with a firm, one who dedicates themselves, or provides a commitment to your needs, then you will get resumes thrown at you that match keywords.  How about a culture fit, personality fit, integrity, job stability, career goals?    

The solution:

Be selective and strategic when planning your hiring approach. Choose one recruiting firm to facilitate the process and ensure you get the right person for the job. Seek out a company that will take the time to set a strategy (ask them what it is), visit the office(s), and conduct interviews with the team in advance.  This will go a long way in identifying the absolute best talent that will fit with YOUR culture.

Hiring can and should be exciting - it's a chance for you to revisit your organizational structure, fill gaps, and bring new energy and talent into your business. You can make better decisions and find the best people by being aware of these pitfalls and taking steps to avoid them.

*2016 Careerbuilder Survey

**Brad Smart, Topgrading